David Ogilvy’s “man in the Hathaway shirt” campaign in 1951 produced sales that outpaced factory production capacity. The reader was intrigued by the mysterious portraits of Baron Wrangell wearing an eye patch photographed in a variety of interesting settings and so they read the copy to find out more, this copy sold shirts, lots of shirts. Ogilvy summed it up – The kind of photographs which work hardest are those which arouse the reader’s curiosity. He glances at the photograph and says to himself, ‘What goes on here?’ Then he reads your copy to find out. ‘Story Appeal,’ the more of it you inject into your photographs, the more people look at your advertisements.

So in 2011, with fewer clients taking full-page adverts in the New Yorker than Ogilvy had in 1951, I hear you say; “how does this relate to what we do today?” My answer is “social media”.

Few now fail to grasp the value of weaving social media into a marketing strategy because its success stories are all around us. The value of showing your personality and becoming more of a known quantity or real person to your otherwise impersonal online connections is an important part of this, just like the appeal of a mass audience reached with a very modest cost of communication.

What I propose for Story Appeal in 2011 is that it be used as a page turning stopper, an attention grabber but better – a hard working photograph which includes a call to action – click-through action. Placed in social media posts with pictures which leave the viewer wanting to know more, intrigued, hungry and most of all wanting to click-through for the answer.

Having started with Ogilvy I will finish the same way. As early as 1955 he was saying “Every advertisement must contribute to the complex symbol that is the brand image”, although this is an accepted concept today it was pioneering stuff in the 1950′s. The other secret ingredient in the Hathaway shirt campaign was that the model, his surroundings and everything about the images said the right things about the Hathaway Shirt Company. Even before Ogilvy had started to talk about brand image he was ensuring that his clients products were portrayed consistently in a high quality. This will also be a core principal of the Story Appeal campaign we will shoot in 2011.

Thanks for reading,

Stephen Potts

Belfast photographer and filmmaker

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